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Recording cars?

Discussion in 'Recording' started by Seb, Apr 11, 2001.

  1. Seb

    Seb Guest

    I'm doing the sound effects for a driving videogame and need advice on choosing a mic to record the car sounds.

    I've figured out ways of capturing all the different sounds a car makes under different conditions, and how to reproduce them in a videogame realistically. The results so far are encouraging, but for the purposes of testing I've been using a cheap Sony ECM-957 mic, which don't do the cars any justice.

    So as I know next to nothing about mics (I usually work from pre-recorded material), can anyone please recommend something suitable? I need something that will faithfully capture the impressive sounds of a sports car exhaust/engine in full flight, with the mic being quite close. I have to be able to hang it out the back of a speeding car too! Stereo recordings are not essential, but ideally I'd like a mic that could also be used for general SFX (location and studio) later. Would something like the Audio-Technica AT825 do the job or am I way off the mark here?

    I'll probably be using a Tascam DA-P1 for recording BTW.

    Thanks in advance.

    --Seb
     
  2. Rog

    Rog Member

    You might like to try a decent shotgun mic for passing sounds and something rugged like an AKG C3000 for the rest.
     
  3. Seb

    Seb Guest

    C3000, eh? I'd never have thought of that because it doesn't have the words "field" or "outdoor" in the title! :)
    Seriously though, if it's tough and rugged enough to be used inside/outside moving cars and can do justice to a booming exhaust then that's exactly the sort of thing I want. I'm not really concerned about passing car sounds at this stage as the doppler effect etc will be generated in-game, so I don't think I'll need a shotgun.

    Incidently I was looking at Sennheiser's MKH-40 (because it said "broadcast" in its applications :eek: ) which according to the ads can do close-miking, outside braodcast and sound effects, which pretty much sums up my requirements. Wasn't sure if it would sound good though...

    Anyone else got any suggestions?
     
  4. cutflower

    cutflower Guest

    Wind noise and electomagnetic noise will be more of a concern than choice of mic. You'll need a fur coated zeppelin if you want to hang the mic out the window. You might want to add some kind of wind deflector as well. The AT and MKH will do the job for your needs.

    You may want to think about perspective. SFX are more usefull recorded with a near and far mic rather than stereo. This allows you to blend mechanical and tyre noise with the hum of the engine.
     
  5. Seb

    Seb Guest

    Just like to add that wind noise won't be too much of a problem because when the car is in motion the mic will be just above the exhaust, so it's slipstreamed behind the rear of the car. Worked so far anyway!

    cutflower: Interesting idea about perspective. However I'm commited to recording as many different sounds as possible in complete isolation, so that they can be individually triggered in the game. For example I can't have tyre noise when the car has gone off a jump (yeah, we're gonna have BIG jumps in the game :cool: ).
     
  6. Well, here's my complicated but extremely hi-fi suggestion:

    Use a digital multitrack machine, such as a DA88/98 and multitrack your car in this configuration. (If you only want to use the DA/P1 machine as in your case, take what is useful out of the following ideas.)

    Engine- use a solid dynamic microphone (perhaps something inexpensive, like an A/T 41, attach it to a hose that won't get too terribly hot)

    Exhaust- Put an earthworks TC30K mic or it's equivalent in the back (in a windshielded zeppelin cover, attached via a clampable arm to the underframe)

    Interior- Any good stereo mic (Sony VP88, maybe) will do

    Tires- The tires are a real bitch to record, lav mics work the best (something with a real high SPL rating <135dB or above> countryman makes a good one) The problem with tires is that if they go through any water, your mic is useless! You also will need to come up with a solution for wind noise.

    Use clampable arms with good shock absorption as much as possible...this will make the editing process much easier. Also be careful not to make too much noise inside the cab of the automobile (if interior is not important, I suggest nixing it)


    Now that you have all these sound sources, you can make "hot-rodded" sound effects that enhance the overall feel of the perspective. I'm sure that this is more than you needed but I hope that this helped in some small way. Good luck!


    Originally posted by Seb:
    I'm doing the sound effects for a driving videogame and need advice on choosing a mic to record the car sounds.

    I've figured out ways of capturing all the different sounds a car makes under different conditions, and how to reproduce them in a videogame realistically. The results so far are encouraging, but for the purposes of testing I've been using a cheap Sony ECM-957 mic, which don't do the cars any justice.

    So as I know next to nothing about mics (I usually work from pre-recorded material), can anyone please recommend something suitable? I need something that will faithfully capture the impressive sounds of a sports car exhaust/engine in full flight, with the mic being quite close. I have to be able to hang it out the back of a speeding car too! Stereo recordings are not essential, but ideally I'd like a mic that could also be used for general SFX (location and studio) later. Would something like the Audio-Technica AT825 do the job or am I way off the mark here?

    I'll probably be using a Tascam DA-P1 for recording BTW.

    Thanks in advance.

    --Seb


    nullnull
     
  7. PS: For good old fashioned left to right pass by's, try an M/S microphone maybe the Neumann RSM 191 (watch for phase coherence though)
     
  8. Dan Popp

    Dan Popp Active Member

    Dear Seb,
    I think your requirements are pretty tough. It has to sound good and be rugged? How much are you willing to pay? There aren't many mics that can take a lot of abuse in the morning and record gnat farts in the afternoon. Maybe a Sennheiser 441 with some kind of foam windscreen?

    Yours,
    Dan Popp
    Colors Audio
    USA
     
  9. Seb

    Seb Guest

    Thanks guys, lot of good advice here.

    seanlankbury: Wow! I guess you could call that a comprehensive answer... I'll be sure to checkout the mics you mentioned. I will probably have to give the interior sounds a miss, as I'm aiming for a PlayStation 2 with limited sample memory (plus the fact that 99% of gamers drive with the external views anyway :roll: ) But I'll obviously try and record as many different sounds as I can.

    Dan Popp: As I mentioned before, I'm not really experienced with working with mics, so my definitions of "sounding good" and "rugged" may be different to you guys. All I know is my Sony ECM sound airy and weak no matter where I place it, not at all like the awesome sound my ears hear standing next to the car. I just need to know what mic will capture that gut-wrenching sound AND would be considered suitable for outdoor use. Maybe my Sony is just crap and any decent mic will do. Price isn't really a problem as the right sound is priceless in a driving game, so indulge me...
     

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